‘Ginger Snaps’ Uses Werewolf Lore to Explore the Terror of Female Adolescence
I believe I have said before that I’m a sucker for werewolves. Movies, books, you name it. One thing I have always believed is that the werewolf could be seen as metaphor for certain things. Warren Zevon‘s classic hit “Werewolves of London” is about alcoholism and the effect it has on a person. So, it’s clear that lycanthropy can be seen as metaphor for addiction.
Director John Fawcett and writer Karen Walton see lycanthropy as symbolising the female side of puberty. That time of change that a girl first experiences on her journey to womanhood. The bleeding, the cramps, the irritable behavior could be seen as signs of transformation. Any way, the girl is never the same after that. She sees the world in a different light and vice versa. Short of actually transforming, she has become a different beast altogether.
When suburban teen Ginger is attacked and infected by a beast, her transformation serves as metaphor for the dark blossoming of womanhood and sexuality. Scary, witty, and poignant, this indie gem gives the werewolf myth visceral new meaning.
Ginger and her timid sister Brigitte are social outcasts obsessed with death, until Ginger’s first period coincides with a savage werewolf mauling. As hormones surge and animal impulses awaken, Ginger’s attitude shifts from morose to voracious. But while she revels in her awakening power, Brigitte watches her sister disappear.
Through Ginger’s lycanthropy, the film explores fraught transition from girl to woman in blood-soaked detail – menstruation symbolized by grisly wounds, new carnal urges by literal bloodlust. Her intoxicating sexuality proves equally liberating and terrifying.
Led by Katharine Isabelle’s feral performance, ‘Ginger Snaps’ packs the hormones and horror of adolescence into a potent allegory. With genuine emotion beneath the genre thrills, it casts the pains of growing up in a new light. For all the blood and fur, the horror cuts deep by tapping into universal experiences.
Funny, frightening and full of heart, ‘Ginger Snaps’ proves teen transformation traumas make fertile ground for cinematic terror. By digging into deeper themes, it raises the werewolf mythos to new heights. But, let me just say that Ginger Snaps, like The Howling and Dog Soldiers, is a pretty damn good little werewolf movie. Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle are both excellent as the two sisters. Perkins you may remember from Stephen King’s IT mini-series, and Isabelle you may remember from Freddy vs Jason.
Anyway, you wanna see a good metaphorical werewolf film? You can’t go wrong with Ginger Snaps.
Among the students paged over the school’s PA system by an uncredited Lucy Lawless are Samuel and Theodore Raimi. Ted Raimi is Lawless’ co-star on “Xena: Warrior Princess” (1995); Ted’s brother Sam Raimi is the show’s executive producer.
Although Katharine Isabelle is supposed to be playing Emily Perkins’ older sister, she is actually five years younger than Emily in real life.
Due to the fact that the film features teenagers in violent situations the production had difficulty getting funding because the Columbine massacre and other school shootings had recently occurred.